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Riviera Nayarit—Things to Do

Beaches | Fishing | Golf | Tours

Beaches/fishing/surfing/golf/tours along the Bay of Banderas

Nuevo Vallarta

The Bay of Banderas has an abundance of beautiful beaches throughout the entire bay. In Nayarit, we first come across Nuevo Vallarta. One of the widest beaches in the bay and probably the longest beach it stretches for nearly eight miles and is 50-60 feet wide at the widest point. Its beach is extensive with golden sand inviting to take a rest and to sunbathe while there is a constant breeze, caressing and refreshing. Nuevo Vallarta is the first of the series of towns going north from the Ameca River that borders the states of Jalisco and Nayarit. It occupies a gentle plain between two rivers with one of the longest walking beaches on the entire coast. The size of this beach makes it ideal for sun bathing and water sports.


The name of this town means place of the divers. Among the longest beaches in the bay it stretches for over 5 miles and its' long shallow shoreline is ideal for body surfing, boogie boarding, skim boarding and shell collecting. The beach is lined with numerous restaurants for your enjoyment, most of which serve fresh seafood all day long.

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle & Destiladeras

These are wide beachs and are popular with surfers for their 2-5 foot swells. The beach has fine sand and a slight slope towards the ocean, offering a smooth surf. The white sand and transparent water combined with fabulous views of the entire bay make this beach a picturesque location to spend the day in the sun. The beach contains several natural tide pools rich with life for those who enjoy observing marine life up close. La Cruz beach has fine sand and a slight slope towards the ocean, offering a smooth surf.

El Anclote

Located just north of Destiladeras, El Anclote’s mild surf is enjoyed by many. This beach is located in Punta de Mita at the northernmost tip of the bay. You’ll find beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean in both directions and of the Sierra Madre mountains which frame the bay. The beautiful beach with fine and golden sand, has transparent warm waters permitting to penetrate the magnificent underwater world of reefs where you can observe the marine fauna composed of different species. Water sports of all types are available here and there are many delicious restaurants along the beach to choose from.


Located just on the other side of the bay is a favorite among surfers. This laid back surfing community is located in a cove where the jungle meets the beach. The swift tides, abundance of sea shells and other treasures as well as a few beaches hidden between rock formations filled with marine life make Sayulita a must see for everyone visiting the Nayarit area.
Each year in December the "Sayulita Surf Classic" is carried out. The extension of its beach measures approximately two kilometers by some 30 meters of width, with fine and golden sand.

San Pancho or San Francisco

This is one of the best surfing locations of the region due to its giant waves and southwest to northwest swells. Its beach has a length of approximately 1.2 kilometers and 50 meters of width. Its sand is golden and of a fine texture, ideal for walks and for collecting diverse types of small shells. The color of its sea is blue with a strong surf. If you like to practice surfing, this is a place which you absolutely must visit. Navigating along the coastline by sailboat is another romantic and exciting activity to carry out.
It is important to remember that this beach is located outside the bay, on the open sea; therefore it is suggested to always take precautions while swimming.

Lo de Marcos

The beach has an extension of one kilometer of length by 40 meter of width, the texture of the sand is fine and the shade of the water is blue and green. The water temperature is tepid and the surf is soft by the edge of the pier.

Rincon de Guayabitos

Guayabitos has gained the title of "the biggest natural pool of the world", and with the beach extending approximately 3 kilometers, it is a perfect resort for the whole family. The calmness of its surf along the major part of its beach invites you to relax completely while sunbathing and lying down in its fine sand of golden color. On the beach of what is considered the hotel zone you cannot avoid to be influence by the happiness of children playing in the ocean without any risk. In Guayabitos the beach is also a space of continuous action. Very early the beach front restaurants are open, serving the catch of the day and the practice of water sports is very popular.

La Penita

Its name comes from the Náhuatl word "Xalli-tem-pa", which means "place at the bank of the sand". It stands out for its commerce. Its beach is long and perfect to admire incredible and multi-colored sunsets.


It is located just on the border between the municipality of Compostela andSan Blas. In order to reach this place you first must go to the village of Las Varas and from there take the detour towards Zacualpan-Platanitos-San Blas, approximately some 35 kilometers from Guayabitos.

The ocean of its bay is ideal for families and on its beach there are more than twenty restaurants offering fresh seafood dishes. From there you can take a trip to Punta Custodio where there is a center for the protection of crocodiles.

San Blas

Its littorals of more than 30km are rich in virgin beaches, with an emphasis on El Rey (the King), El Borrego (the lamb), Las Islitas (the small islands), Matanchen, Aticama, Los Cocos (the coconuts), Miramar y Platanitos (small bananas), where it is possible to practice underwater fishing and even surfing.



Riviera Nayarit Sportfishing Calendar

The ocean area around Nayarit and the Bay of Banderas are fast becoming known for its superb fishing. Two world record catches have been accomplished in the area (blue marlin and wahoo) and more are waiting. Many deluxe fishing charter vessels are available for those seeking to spend the day, or several days, fishing the blue waters of the area for several species of ocean fish. The calm, warm waters of the area beckon fishermen of the world. Available sport fishing charters can be found in Nuevo Vallarta, Bucerias, La Cruz, Punta Mita, Sayulita, San Francisco and Lo de Marcos. Boats from beach rental pangas to large fishing cruisers can be rented by the hour, half-day to all day. Some charter services offer overnight charters including all meals and sleeping accommodations. Typical fish found in these waters are as follows:


The The Striped Marlin is found off Nayarit from July until November. World record is 339 pounds and is an outstanding fighting fish, normally released by fishermen. It is a good eating fish.



The Blue Marlin can be found in the area from July to April, the best times are September thru February. Normal size is 150 to 500 pounds, the world record is 1402 pounds. This is a tremendous fighting fish which takes hours on specialized equipment to land. Good eating but commonly released by fishermen.



The Black Marlin is found in the area from July to February. The Black is the largest of the marlin family; the world record currently stands at a whopping 1560 pounds! This fish is highly prized by sport fishermen but its declining numbers are resulting in a catch-and-release policy by true sportsmen.



Sailfish are found closer to shore than the other billfish and are occasionally caught within the Bay of Banderas. This is an excellent fighting fish which is unsurpassed for its size in strength and spectacular leaps and runs. An excellent eating fish and ranges from 50 to 100 pounds normally. The world record is 221 pounds.



Several species of tuna can be found in Mexican waters but the favorite is the Yellowfin tuna. Also known as Ahi, this spectacular fighting fish is a favorite of fishermen and can be found served fresh at many local restaurants. It is one of the finest eating fares available. Yellowfin tuna range from a few pounds to almost 400 pounds. World record is 388 pounds. Special heavy-duty equipment is a must for these powerful brutes.



The Mexican Pargo is also known as Red Snapper. An excellent eating fish, it ranges from a few pounds to 40 pounds in this area. The world record is 50 pounds. Drifting and bait fishing are the most productive ways to catch these beautiful fish.



This furious fighting fish gives the fisherman a tremendous fight. It has terrific stamina, slashing moves, screaming runs and jumps. It is not a particularly good eating fish and is normally released. Normally found in the 10 to 30 pound range, but can be found up to 100 pounds in these waters. World record is 114 pounds.



An outstanding fighter, this beautiful fish is a great light tackle sport fish. Excellent eating, it is common at 1 to 3 pounds but can be found over 10 pounds. World record is 13 pounds.



Another of the snapper family, the blackspot snapper is normally found in 200 foot depths. An excellent eating fish, it ranges from 3 to 6 pounds, the world record is 7 pounds.



This tremendous fighter lives up to its name in fight and beauty. Related to the barracuda, this slim fish is best known for its frightening array of razor sharp teeth. Common at 10 to 50 pounds, it can reach over 200 pounds. World record stands at 158 pounds, the Bay of Banderas gave up a 221 pounder in 2004 but didn't qualify from record status due to the manner in which it was caught. Excellent eating fish.



The dorado, also known as a mahi-mahi or dolphin, is prolific in Mexican waters. It is the fastest growing of all ocean fish, it reaches the world record weight of 87 pounds. 20 to 40 pounders are frequently caught around Nayarit waters. One of the best eating fish found in the ocean, it is also one of the most beautiful with brilliant blues, greens and yellow markings. Strong and acrobatic, this fighter is highly sought after and caught regularly September thru April.



The amberjack is also known as the Coronado. This excellent eating fish can be frequently caught at 5 to 20 pounds, the world record is 142 pounds. A tremendous fighting fish, it is best caught with live bait by drifting. Heavy tackle is a must.



Commonly found in the 50 pound range, this fighter has been caught up to 114 pounds. Usually caught over reefs and wrecks, it can also be caught by trolling. Season ranges from May to September. Warm weather drives them deeper.



The crevalle jack is a commonly caught sport fish in these waters. Normal range is 1 to 10 pounds but frequently caught in the 20 pound range. World record is 57 pounds. Poor eating but a favorite due to its enormous fight and pulling power. Frequently caught on light tackle. Can be found here most of the year.



Riviera Nayarit Sportfishing Calendar

Golf in Nayarit

Today Nayarit and the surrounding areas boast 7 world class golf courses within 45 minutes drive of the Puerto Vallarta International Airport. and 3 more outstanding golf courses are in the planning stages.

Nayarit is well known as a Mexico major golf spot and has earned recognition as a world class golf destination. Blending of championship golf with the incredible backdrop of tropical forests, mountains, and breathtaking views of Banderas Bay creates a powerful and heady mix. Golf courses enviable in any part of the world. Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf and Robert von Hagge have designed golf courses that would combine all the best features that came naturally to Vallarta-Nayarit.

The general public is welcome at the Marina Vallarta Golf Club (18 holes championship course par 71 designed by Joe Fingers), Vista Vallarta Club de Golf [36 holes championship courses. One par 72 designed by Jack Nicklaus, and another one par 72 designed by Tom Weiskopf], Flamingos Golf Club (18 holes championship course par 72, designed by Percy Clifford) El Tigre Club de Golf [18 holes championship course par 72 designed by Vov Hagge], Mayan Palace Country Club [18 holes championship course par 71, designed by Jim Lipe], and The Four Seasons Punta Mita (18 holes championship course par 72, designed by Jack Nicklaus). All seven courses are surrounded by tropical greenery and the tranquil beauty of Banderas Bay. Two more golf courses are expected to open at the end of 2006.


Nayarit Tours

There is a wide variety of land and sea tours to enjoy. You may find yourself on a tropical jungle expedition learning about the flora and fauna indigenous to the area or zipping through the jungle on cables suspended hundreds of feet above the ground.

There are tours to nearby towns where you can get a taste of Mexican culture, learn about the areas history, and the traditions that drive the daily lives of those who have lived there for generations. If the ocean and marine life is what you fancy, then Nayarit has more than it's share of activities to offer.

There are many beautiful locations throughout the bay that are perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. Fishing is a very popular activity in the bay and you can find a seemingly endless supply of charter boats to take deep sea fishing. The "Bahia de Banderas" is also a breeding ground for many creatures of the sea kingdom. During winter and spring there are numerous whale watching tours where you will see humpback whales and dolphins that have migrated to the bay in order to reproduce.

During the summer and fall months there are several programs aimed at protecting the endangered sea tortoises that use the shores of Nayarit as their nesting grounds. This endless list of activities, the friendly people, the warm, family oriented culture, and the world class facilities of Nayarit all combine to provide an unforgettable vacation experience that you will not want to end.

To book your tour, click on the links below. This way, when you arrive all your adventures will be set for you to enjoy with no surprises. Please note that most people in Nayarit go by Puerto Vallarta time, there is an hour difference. If it is 10:00 am in Nayarit, it is 11:00 am in Puerto Vallarta. If you have made reservations make sure you know which time they have been made under.

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